Chinese Films ‘Knife’ and ‘Donor’ Joint Winners of Busan Festival

Sonia Kil and Patrick Frater

BUSAN — Two Chinese films were announced Saturday as joint winners of the Busan Film Festival’s main competition section.

Wang Xuebo’s “Knife in the Clear Water” and Zang Qiwu’s “The Donor” topped the competitive New Currents section which focuses on up and coming film making talent from Asia.

“The Donor” is a critique of the disparities between rich and poor in contemporary China and is the story of a man who sells his kidney. “Knife” is an elegaic examination of a minority Muslim community and tells the tale of an old farmer who has difficulty giving up his bull.

The jury was headed by veteran film maker Souleymane Cisse from Mali, and included India’s Guneet Monga, The Netherlands’ Bero Beyer, Iran’s Mahmoud Kalari and Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lu.

“Parting,” by Afghanistan’s Navid Mahmoudi was given a special mention by the jury. The film was selected as Afghanistan’s official selection for the foreign-language Oscar category. But the title appears to have been disqualified as it was omitted from the 85-title list published earlier this week.

The Academy has not replied to Variety‘s requests for explanation of the film’s elimination.

The festival, which has been buffeted by winds of the political and meteorological kind, this week welcomed over 165,000 visitors, a decrease on last year’s 227,000. At a press conference held on Saturday morning local time, festival director Kang Soo-youn said the decrease was caused by the reduced number of overall screenings and theaters, a smaller floating population affected by the damaged BIFF Village, little preparation time due to the local film industry’s boycott, and by Korea’s recent anti-corruption law.

Taiwanese director-producer Wu Yii Feng, Italy’s festival dei Popoli director Alberto Lastrucci, and Korean film history researcher Cho Young-jung awarded the BIFF Mecenat Awards to “Neighborhood” by Korean director Sung Seung-taek and “The Crescent Rising” by The Philippines’ Sheron Dayoc. Dayoc is an alumnus of the BIFF’s Asian Film Academy.

The Sonje Awards were shared by Korean director Kim So-youn’s “Viewer,” and “Off-season” by Kazakhstan’s Yelzat Eskendir. The Sonje Award jury included Bangladesh’s Mostofa Farooki, Germany’s Munich Film Festival programmer Bernhard Karl, and Korean film critic Nam Da-eun.

Both the actor and actress of the year awards, given to on screen talent in a Korean Cinema Today—Vision section title, went to “Jane” actors. Jurors Kim Ui-seong (“Train to Busan”) and Cho Min-su (“Pieta”) chose Gu Gyo-hwan and Lee Min-ji as winners of the awards.


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